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Stocks in Motion: Hansen Natural

The drink maker's third-quarter results easily beat expectations.

Marvel Entertainment

(MVL)

was among the

NYSE's

losers Wednesday, with shares plunging 20% after the entertainment licensing company posted third-quarter results that missed expectations by a wide margin and gave a bleak forecast for 2006.

For the third quarter, the company earned $23.4 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $81.1 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 30 cents a share and sales of $100.3 million. A year earlier, the company earned $34.4 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $135.2 million.

Marvel now sees 2005 earnings of $1.02 to $1.07 a share, up a penny from its previous guidance. The company raised its sales projection to a range of $385 million to $395 million from an earlier view of $370 million to $390 million. Analysts project earnings of $1.08 a share on sales of $388 million.

For 2006, however, the company forecast earnings of $38 million to $53 million, or 37 cents to 52 cents a share, sharply below analysts' estimate of $1.13. The company sees 2006 sales of $270 million to $300 million, compared with Wall Street's forecast of $415.5 million. Marvel said the 2006 forecast reflects a difficult year for both toys and licensing. Shares were trading down $3.69 to $14.35.

Shares of

Hansen Natural

(HANS)

rose 10% after the drink company posted third-quarter results that easily beat Wall Street expectations. The company earned $20.2 million, or 83 cents a share, on sales of $105.4 million. Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 60 cents a share and sales of $87.6 million. A year earlier, Hansen earned $5.8 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $52.6 million.

Hansen attributed the strong year-over-year gains to the company's growing position in the energy drink market. "All of these products contributed significantly to the increase in sales," the company said. Shares were trading up $5.71 to $62.41.

American Science and Engineering

(ASEI)

rose 11% after the X-ray detection technology company posted second-quarter results that blew away expectations. The company earned $8.4 million, or 93 cents a share, well above analysts' mean estimate of 54 cents. The company's sales of $49.1 million easily topped Wall Street's forecast of $32.8 million. A year earlier, the company earned $399,000, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $21.1 million.

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American Science said it chalked up strong gains across the board during the recent quarter. The company noted that it received its largest single order for its "Z Backscatter van X-ray" screening system during the second quarter. Shares were trading up $6.81 to $69.01.

La Quinta

(LQI)

soared 32% after the hotel company agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Blackstone Group for about $2.8 billion in cash. Shareholders will receive $11.25 per paired share, representing a 37% premium over Tuesday's closing price of $8.22. Including La Quinta's debt and cash, the deal is worth about $3.4 billion. The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2006. Shares were trading up $2.68 to $10.90.

Shares of

Fisher Scientific

(FSH)

rose 12% after the research instruments maker posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and boosted its full-year outlook. The company earned $93.5 million, or 73 cents a share, on sales of $1.41 billion. Excluding items, the company earned 99 cents a share. Analysts expected earnings of 88 cents a share, before items, on sales of $1.43 billion. Fisher's year-ago earnings were $36.1 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $1.25 billion. Excluding items, the company earned 82 cents a share a year ago.

Fisher Scientific now sees 2005 earnings of $3.52 to $3.57 a share, up from an earlier view of $3.47 to $3.52 a share, on sales growth of about 21%. Excluding items, the company expects earnings of $3.79 to $3.84 a share. Analysts project earnings of $3.51 a share on sales of $5.64 billion.

For 2006, the company sees earnings of at least $4.05 a share. Excluding items, Fisher expects earnings of at least $4.35 a share. Sales, meanwhile, are expected to grow by 8% to 9%. Analysts expect earnings of $4.09 a share and sales of $6.14 billion. Shares were trading up $7 to $64.10.

NYSE

volume leaders included

Interpublic Group

(IPG) - Get Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (IPG) Report

, down 36 cents to $10.11;

General Motors

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, down 97 cents to $24.89;

Motorola

(MOT)

, up 37 cents to $23.56;

Pfizer

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, down 15 cents to $21.76;

Lucent Technologies

(LU)

, up 1 cent to $2.75; and

Exxon Mobil

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, down 27 cents to $57.10.

Nasdaq volume leaders included

JDSU

(JDSU)

, up 2 cents to $2.26;

Microsoft

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, up 5 cents to $27.10;

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

, down 10 cents to $17.76;

Intel

(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report

, up 15 cents $24.70;

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report

, up 5 cents to $6.88;

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Sunworks, Inc. Report

, unchanged at $3.77;

Apple Computer

(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report

, up $1.12 to $61.02; and

Oracle

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, down 7 cents to $12.55.